How I got my O1 Visa Within 5 Months After Graduate School

Summer Y.LAs I have friends from more than 20 different countries (I stopped counting when it was getting so overwhelming), getting a valid working visa is nothing unfamiliar or new to us in the U.S. Getting an H1B visa and winning the lottery makes it possible to stay and work here, but it’s outside of your control.

The O1 visa is known to be the most prestigious working visa type except for the G-1 visa (diplomatic visa). It’s also known to be hard to get. The myth of O1 visa holders is that only famous artists or people who are Nobel Prize winners get them. I’m not an artist nor a Nobel Prize winner, but I was able to get my O1 visa within 5 months after graduate school. And if I can do it, you can also do it. Since so many of my friends have asked me to share my journey with them, I decided to share how I got it with you all.

To qualify an O1 visa, you can check out the official website here. Below is what I have done to hit the goals.

Finding A Good Lawyer

Before I found my lawyer to work with, I have consulted one terrible lawyer. Since he only represented dancers and athletes, he was not an expert to work with marketers and brand strategists. So all the advice he gave to me was useless and depressing. Finding a good lawyer who understands your fields is the key before you start to prepare. Good lawyers don’t take clients easily unless they think you have a high possibility to get an O1 granted. My lawyers were speaking to me for two months before they decided to offer me a representative.

Before you start to prepare for all the following steps, find a good lawyer, find a good lawyer and find a good lawyer.

Writing More and Publishing More

I have contributed to one of the most famous Chinese magazines in China for 3 months. I mainly covered the international trend and news for luxury brands, such as Chanel. I also wrote interviews with top Chinese artists and celebrities. Some of my articles hit the most popular list on the web in China, and some of my articles were very well recirculated. So publishing on the credible media outlets gave me the credibility to be an expert in my field.

Summer Y.L

Getting Featured

Since I’m also an influencer on social media, getting featured was relatively easy for me. Most of my features came organically, and I didn’t try hard to hit this criteria. However, from a traditional PR and personal branding perspective, I think pitching yourself to editors is very necessary.

Having Exhibitions

I’m not an artist. I’m a marketer and brand strategist. Having exhibitions and getting featured on outlets organically also helped me with personal branding and reputation. For example, as a Google pixel 1 ambassador, I exhibited my work at Highline park in collaboration with Refinery 29.

Begging For Recommendation Letters

Don’t ever be shy when it comes to recommendation letters. Go through your connections and see who would be a great fit to give you a letter. Don’t ever feel that you are going to bother people because asking for favors is a great way to bring people closer. I was very persistent with my recommenders and checked in with them once a week. Luckily, everyone I asked said yes, and provided me with a beautiful letter.

I decided to share my journey with you all, only because I want to tell you – it’s not as hard as you imagine. And if I can get it, you can get it, too!

This article is not meant to offer any legal advice. For any legal knowledge, please go to the official website or consult a lawyer. And if you have more questions to ask me, I have a good lawyer to recommend.

Summer Y.L



Hi, I'm Summer 言奕. I'm a NYC based Chinese Globetrotter with friendships and network in more than 20 different countries. I'm attracted to international cultures and peoples. I can play chess better than Chinese chess, and I'm an avid Argentine Tango social dancer. Please always hit me up if you'd like to dine together or go to a show :)

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